While young men have been at the center of most terrorist attacks, ISIS women are a growing threat.
The Daily Beast’s report on ISIS women as a terrorist threat cannot be discounted as “Conservative” propaganda. Indeed, the story seems to want us to sympathize with the women—perhaps rightly to a point. But the bottom line is that the government’s job is to protect citizens and punish criminals. Joining and supporting ISIS is a criminal endeavor. It has to be dealt with as a crime and a security threat.
The Daily Beast reports, “Beware the Women of ISIS: There Are Many, and They May Be More Dangerous Than the Men.”
Most countries accept their female returnees from Iraq and Syria and many countries do not prosecute these women—or if they do, they receive lighter sentences. This is due to the notion that they only followed their men as a result of being tricked or coerced, which often is not the case.
In the Balkans and Central Asia, we were told by intelligence and law enforcement that women are “zombies” (following their men and controlled by their men). But our research shows that ISIS women often followed their men willingly into Syria and Iraq, and in some cases willingly joined them in homegrown terrorist attacks.
Some may have agreed to go out of fears of abandonment and financial ruin, yet others were instigators. In Kyrgyzstan, for instance, two older women talked their extended families into traveling to Syria to join ISIS, believing that they would better their financial lot and be able to live by what they believed to be “true” Islamic ideals. When disillusionment set in, one of these grandmothers was able to smuggle her grandson back home who, according to her close associates interviewed in Kyrgyzstan, brought a message from the rest of the family: “He’s the only one we could get out, we are hopelessly lost.”
Contrary to some societal assumptions that downplay the role of women as perpetrators of violence, women in ISIS frequently are agents of violence within the group. Former members of hisbah told us themselves about flogging and biting other women with metal teeth as punishments. Similarly, reports from those on the ground in Syria state that women inside ISIS have been trained to throw grenades, use weapons, and have been indoctrinated for “martyrdom” missions.
The story attempts to blame the recruitment of ISIS women on Assad’s war with Jihadists and Western society’s disapproval and legislation against requiring head coverings. In other words, allowing Muslim women to immigrate creates a cadre of women who will become resentful and “radicalized” by offenses against Islamic values.
In fact, this story contains plenty of evidence that Islam itself is the problem.
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